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P&G Heats Up Tide Coldwater Challenge

An online campaign for Procter & Gamble Co.'s new Tide Coldwater detergent in conjunction with the Alliance to Save Energy is gaining consumer traction.

The promotion at tide.com lets site visitors sign up for a free sample of Tide's newest detergent for washing clothes in cold water as well as refer e-mail addresses of friends. Visitors then see their network grow across a map of the United States when their friends log onto the site.

Visits to Tide.com grew 300 percent for the week ending Jan. 29 versus the week ending Jan. 22. Also, visits rose 904 percent for the week through Jan. 22 compared with the prior week.

Even the viral aspect of the Tide Coldwater Challenge campaign — traffic generated from e-mail addresses supplied by friends — is working, according to Internet monitoring service Hitwise.

E-mail services such as Yahoo, MSN's Hotmail and Google's Gmail drove 28.44 percent of the traffic to Tide.com for the week ending Jan. 22 after the start of the Coldwater Challenge. E-mail pushed 1.27 percent of the traffic to the site in the week through Jan. 15, before the promotion's kickoff the week of Jan. 22. By Jan. 29, 56.21 percent of Tide.com visits were e-mail-led.

“This data show the great ROI that such a promotion can have and the ability to very narrowly target and engage women through the trusted ability of free samples,” said Bill Tancer, Hitwise vice president of research.

The site demographics changed little after the promotion, Hitwise found. But the campaign resonated with women older than 55 who had annual household incomes of less than $60,000.

A cross-referencing of Hitwise's data with Claritas/Prizm's profile of households shows that 50 percent of Tide.com visitors were from the “town and country” social group. An estimated 38 percent of all Internet traffic comes from the town and country set. These visitors typically lead quiet lives in small towns and rural communities.

Other social groups, titled “rustic living,” “Middle America” and “country comfort,” combined accounted for 41 percent of visitors.

Each group is distinct. “Rustic living” people have modest incomes, low educational levels and blue-collar occupations. Middle America is middle class, mostly white, high school-educated residents of remote communities who like traditional rural pursuits. Country comfort is mainly white, middle-class homeowners who are married and have comfortable, upscale lifestyles.

P&G, Cincinnati, is keen to convert consumers from across these groups to switch to Tide Coldwater, either liquid or powder, Fresh Scent or Glacier.

Material on the Coldwater Challenge promotion Web page claims “Tide Coldwater is the first laundry detergent specially formulated to help reduce your energy bills by delivering outstanding cleaning in cold water.” The tagline for Tide Coldwater: “The Coolest Way to Clean.”

P&G cites U.S. Department of Energy statistics that state 80 percent to 85 percent of energy used to wash clothes comes from heating the water. On the same site, P&G notes that consumers “can save precious energy and money by washing in cold water with Tide Coldwater. In fact, you can save 17 cents a load — that adds up to $63 a year.”

The data are based on the national average heating costs as of July 2004, a water heater at 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the warm to cold water switch and seven loads per week.

The company will donate $100,000 to the National Fuel Funds Network. This organization helps state and local groups that assist low-income families in paying their energy bills. Some 30 million U.S. households can't afford to fully heat or cool their homes.

As of Feb. 7, 471,400 people accepted the Coldwater Challenge. A reading of the U.S. map on the Coldwater Challenge site shows most of the participants are east of the Mississippi River.

Mickey Alam Khan covers Internet marketing campaigns and e-commerce, agency news as well as circulation for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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